Pity: a mitigated defence

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):343-364 (2014)
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The aim of this article is to offer a mitigated moral justification of a much maligned emotional trait, pity, in the Aristotelian sense of ‘pain at deserved bad fortune’. I lay out Aristotle's taxonomic map of pity and its surrounding conceptual terrain and argue – by rehearsing modern accounts – that this map is not anachronistic with respect to contemporary conceptions. I then offer an ‘Aristotelian’ moral justification of pity, not as a full virtue intrinsically related to eudaimonia but as a positive moral quality that has instrumental value in developing and sustaining a certain intrinsically valuable state of character – namely compassion. The justification offered is mitigated in the sense that it does not elevate pity to a virtuous disposition, constitutive of the good life; yet it does offer a crucial counterweight to Aristotle's own denunciation of pity



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Citations of this work

Compassion without Cognitivism.Charlie Kurth - 2019 - Humana Mente 12 (35).
Why empathy is an intellectual virtue.Alkis Kotsonis & Gerard Dunne - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-18.

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References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 2014 - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co..
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
The Moralistic Fallacy: On the ”Appropriateness' of Emotions.Daniel Jacobson - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (1):65-90.
The Moralistic Fallacy: On the 'Appropriateness' of Emotions.Justin D'Arms & Daniel Jacobson - 2000 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 61 (1):65-90.

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